Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Double Standard in Environmental Science (amv)

Stanley W. Trimble (University of California) has published a shocking and alarming article in the current issue of Cato's regulation. It is about the degeneration of environmental "science" (better to call it environmentalism). It is a very interesting paper written by an insider who also reveals some aspects about the current hype on climate change. Here some extracts (BUT READ THE WHOLE PAPER: download here):

"Ideology, not science, had established a significant grip on the top scientific press. This article attempts to portray the emotionalism, exaggeration, and even ideological viciousness — qualities that to me define extremism — that have invaded the field of environmental science.

[...] The implication is that flimsy or even no evidence for environmental degradation is acceptable, but any evidence for improvement is suspect. For those of us in academe, all of this can have profound implications for careers that depend on having many (but not necessarily good) publications for advancement. And based on prima facie evidence, environmental extremism is good for the career. It is also troubling that so much of the argument against the skeptics on environmental problems is the old ad hominem one: they are all in the pockets of the capitalist-industrialist-polluters. But I have rarely seen it suggested that any environmental pessimists might just be influenced by groupthink-careerism-environmentalist-ideologues. Most of my own uncertainty about the degree and causes of many environmental problems is driven by what I have seen in my own field: if the published work on other environmental problems is fraught with as much hyperbole, misinformation, and lack of expertise as I have encountered in the study of soil erosion, then we all have every right to be at least somewhat skeptical.

[...] Most troubling to me is the perception that at least some scientists have abrogated their social contract with the public. Merely reporting the actual conditions of a problem seems to no longer be adequate — exaggeration and scare tactics must be used to elicit the desired political action.

[...] If we learned nothing else from authoritarian regimes of the past, it is that ideology and science do not mix. Group-think, emotionalism, ad hominem attacks, and suppression of dissent are unthinkable in both a free society and certainly in a productive scientific atmosphere."